Lectures and seminars will account for some of your study time. This is the time you have with your lecturers and your peers, and is sometimes referred to as ‘contact time’, as lecturers are likely to be unavailable outside of these times, unless by appointment. Lectures will vary according to discipline and lecturer, so you need to be aware of your lecturer’s preferences, particularly when it comes to assignments. If in doubt, get in touch with your lecturer and ask them how they would like things to be done!
Using information from lectures
Lectures are intended to introduce a topic or a concept, by providing you outlines, overviews and recent research in order for you to formulate your own further research, reading and reflection. For this reason, lectures alone will not be enough for you to formulate sound arguments in your assignments, so it is a good idea to attend lectures to get a headstart with your research. The following advice is adapted from Cottrell (2013, p. 183):
Before the lecture
- Prepare – Check Learning Space for the module and see if there is anything you need to prepare for the next lecture. This might be background reading, an activity to complete, a video to watch.
- Investigate the topic – If the lecture information is available, take a look and note down anything of interest. If there are words that you don’t understand, look them up. Note down your initial impressions of the session and then compare once you have attended the session. Jot down any questions that you would like your lecturer to answer or any things they need to clarify.
- Consider the module assessment – Check the assessment criteria and see if this lecture is related to the assignment or to any other lectures.
During the lecture
- Listen actively – The lecture will move quickly, but don’t worry; you aren’t expected to retain everything that is being said; just main themes and readings. Your lecturer will give verbal cues of important information for you to remember, so make sure you capture these. TIP: make use of the Panopto Lecture Capture after a session to go over anything you might have missed!
- Challenge things mentally – Don’t take everything you hear as absolute! The world of academia is open to challenge and questioning so do this as you listen; jot your questions or comments down and revisit later on, as this might be relevant to your understanding.
- Listen to your peers – Your peers may contribute to the session by asking relevant questions or raising observations. Make sure you listen and don’t be afraid to contribute if you want to!
After the lecture
- Consult your notes and fill in the gaps from your reading or research
- Discuss the lecture with your peers
- Consult any follow up materials or recommended reading after the session
Some lectures will involve elements of group discussion. In your first year at University, this might seem like a daunting prospect, but group discussions are actually a really good way of getting to know your peers, and decoding any course material. Effective group discussions are an invaluable tool for study, learning and employment. Learn how to contribute to group discussions with this excellent guide by The University of Sydney.